A £1.8m study funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is looking for hundreds of Plymouth smokers who don’t want to quit, but do want to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke. Researchers from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (PUPSMD) will lead the study to test whether personal support can help.
Professor Adrian Taylor, Associate Dean for Research in PUPSMD, is leading the study across four cities – Plymouth, Nottingham, Oxford and London - which will hopefully provide a definitive answer to whether future services should be adapted to support those not ready to quit.
“We know that over 50% of smokers want to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke but not quit,” said Professor Taylor. “So this study is for a different type of audience to the smokers who are ready to quit. At the moment services are geared towards supporting people who want to quit and so those who aren’t ready to abstain are left until they are ready to quit. Many current smokers have struggled to quit in the past, either by abruptly quitting or trying to reduce first. If this study proves successful then this could change the way that the one in six (16%) of the national population who smoke (with more than double that in some areas of Plymouth) are supported across the country.
“It is different to any smoking cessation service currently available in that we will support our participants with changing smoking habits even if they are not ready to quit,” said Professor Taylor. “Once participant’s come up with the ideas about what changes they could make then we talk about setting goals, monitoring how well they are doing and help build up motivation, confidence and a sense of importance for change. We can also work with participants to see if and how taking part in a wide range of physical activities in the community can help to support any reduction in smoking.”
The support available is up to the individual to determine and can take place on the phone or face to face at a convenient community location. The rate of reduction in smoking is up to the individual too and those who take part in the study are also allowed to use nicotine replacement therapies and e-cigarettes should they wish. One participant in an earlier pilot study said, ‘I wouldn’t have come into the study if the focus had been on quitting’ and another noted ‘I identified easy cigarettes to not smoke then gained confidence to smoke fewer and fewer cigarettes over several weeks and eventually I decided that I was ready to quit. I was successful and now breathe easier and can do more with my kids.’
“We aim to support participants who smoke 10 or more cigarettes a day who receive the intervention in the trial to halve the number of cigarettes they smoke in four weeks,” said Professor Taylor. “But some people do it much faster than that and some people do it a bit slower; it’s all up to the individual.”
This study is managed by the Peninsula Clinical Trials Unit (PenCTU) and supported by PenCLAHRC and the NIHR Clinical Research Network South West Peninsula. It is a collaborative project between Plymouth University, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, St George’s University of London, University of Oxford, University of Nottingham, University of Exeter, and Plymouth City Council.
For more information please email the local study team. Results will inform the Trial of physical Activity and Reduction of Smoking (TARS) project. For more information about TARS visit the project page.